October 2, 2022

By BRENT MARTIN

St. Joseph Post

A major issue for state legislators during the Missouri
legislative session this year was the state gas tax.

Efforts to increase the tax and pump more money into the
Missouri Department of Transportation budget have failed the past few years.

It passed this year.

State Rep. Brenda Shields of St. Joseph understands an
increase from 17 cents a gallon to 29 ½ cents a gallon will pinch pocketbooks a
bit.

“Even though it sounds like a lot, it’s a little bit that we
can all pay to make our roads better.,” Shields tells St. Joseph Post. “We
haven’t had a gas tax increase in the state of Missouri since 1996.”

Shields estimates the average motorist will pay $125 more a
year once the increase if fully implemented.

Shields points out vehicles now get better gas mileage,
spending less at the pump, while the cost of road construction keeps going up.

The Missouri Department of Transportation estimates Missouri
faces a transportation annual funding shortfall of $745 million. The gas tax
increase, once fully implemented in 2025, is expected to add $500 million to
MoDOT’s budget.

The legislation calls for the gas tax to increase by
two-and-a-half cents per gallon, beginning in October. The gas tax increase
will be fully implemented by July of 2025.

State Rep. Bill Falkner, the former St. Joseph Mayor, says Missouri
has paid a price for keeping its gas tax so low.

“I hope that when they get the additional funding that it will
go to keeping the highways l0oking nice and functioning correctly to where they’re
not a danger to the people driving on them,” Falkner tells St. Joseph Post.

Falkner recalls a meeting of regional mayors held in Kansas
City after he first was elected St. Joseph mayor in 2010. He says improving the
area highway system was at the top of the list of priorities for the mayors,
who always thought northern Missouri got shortchanged in transportation
funding.

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